Usamate continues to defend pay rise for MPs, gets heckled in public forum

Usamate continues to defend pay rise for MPs, gets heckled in public forum

By Rashika Kumar
Wednesday 12/06/2024
FijiFirst MP Jone Usamate.

FijiFirst MP Jone Usamate has again attempted to justify the increase in the salaries and benefits of MPs, the Speaker and the President, saying that they need to attract good people to the Parliament.

While responding to a question during the Speakers Debate on the theme “Women’s Public Leadership: Empowering Women’s Participation at all Levels of Decision-Making”, Usamate says they need very good people in Parliament but they need to have measures that attract them to take the job.

While Usamate was giving his explanation, a member of the audience had shouted out 'shame on you' at Usamate.

Usamate made these comments as Unaisi Cemaratubua who represents the Soqosoqo Vakamarama in Tavuki Village in Kadavu had suggested that just as traditional male leaders in a village are paid a quarterly allowance, women leaders should be paid as well; and in her response to this, Fiji Council of Social Services Executive Director, Vani Catanasiga had said that she would prioritise this over MPs' salaries.

Usamate also says Minister for Women, Lynda Tabuya had said that when she went in as a woman leader, there were so many attacks and so you need to have a package to bring women in and attract them to this role.

He say this is why his FijiFirst party made the submission to make it attractive for good people to want to offer themselves to become parliamentarians.

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Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament and Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu says as a traditional leader, he will take note of what has been raised by Tavuki Village's woman representative and share it with his Provincial Council.

He says a woman from each of the 14 provinces has a seat on the Great Council of Chiefs which is a great achievement.

He says women go for parliamentary representation rather than local government but there is more empowerment and actions being taken for the people at local government rather than the Parliament.

Ratu Naiqama says he hopes the driving force is not the salary or the allowance and people miss the opportunity to serve well.

Click here for more stories on the Ministers and MPs Salary Increase Issue

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